All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

5

Bobby Selvaggio: Quantum Man

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
For lack of a better description, the latest project by Cleveland-based musician Bobby Selvaggio is a melding of textures between the saxophonist's jazz quartet and a string quintet consisting of two violins, two violas, and cello. It's a heady assignment that many have tried over the years. In fact, there have been more failures in this genre than successes. A highpoint of this type of fusion has always been The October Suite a 1966 Impulse date featuring pianist Steve Kuhn and arrangements on one side for strings by the great Gary McFarland. In a broader context, Claus Ogerman's Gate of Dreams and Cityscape are models for this type of project, the pair of sides featuring Michael Brecker.

For Selvaggio's part, let it be said that he largely succeeds at providing what he calls a "sonic adventure for the listener." The strings never feel adjunct, but indeed serve a vital role in fleshing out the textures of these unique compositions. The opening "Vanishing Thoughts" is simply stunning, with jabbing piano chords ushering in a soaring unison line by Bobby's alto and his wife Chelsea's wordless vocals. String tremolos move in and out between sections as Selvaggio's alto statement slowly unfolds. There's a quaintness to it all not unlike the work of Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone.

By contrast, the title track speaks first via a tone row from Bobby's alto as string chords punctuate the silence. Suddenly, synthesized sounds take things to a whole other place as a funky backbeat buoys further development of the theme. Such exploration is at the heart of Selvaggio's writing here, even if the electronics sound somewhat kitschy. The three movements of "Fading Rose" cover a good deal of ground compositionally as well as when it comes to Bobby's own saxophone playing. At times warm and melodic, he can also dip into tonal manipulations akin to Sam Rivers or Ornette Coleman. The third movement is especially adventuresome, getting additional bang for the buck from the ethnic drumming of Jamey Haddad.

"House on a Hill" opens with a snippet of what sounds like a record needle being dropped on a piece of vinyl. What evolves is another euphoric melody supported by wordless vocals. "Love Within" treads on similar ground, its waltz tempo and cheery attitude making for an easy listen. Like "Vanishing Thoughts" the up tempo "Proteanism" is a tour de force in terms of compositional form, beauty of melodic lines, and evidence of Selvaggio's strengths as an improviser. His soprano horn sounds especially strong, reeling off phrases as the strings punctuate with their own riffs.

Never too coy for its own good, Quantum Man makes a strong case for the validity of this type of work. Don't expect hot solos over a swinging beat, because they are not to be found here. However, if your tastes lie somewhere between contemporary classical and improvised music, there's plenty of nourishment here ripe for the taking.

Track Listing: Vanishing Thoughts; Quantum Man; Fading Rose (in three movements); House on a Hill; Proteanism; Love Within; Up is Down

Personnel: Bobby Selvaggio: alto and soprano sax, alto clarinet, voice box effects pedal, keyboard; Theron Brown: piano & keyboards; Dustin May: drums; Dan Pappalardo: bass; Jamey Haddad: percussion; Chelsea Selvaggio: voice; Chiara Stauffer: 1st violin; Amber Dimoff: 2nd violin; Andrea Belding Elson: 1st viola; Christina Spackey: 2nd viola; Trevor Kazarian: cello

Title: Quantum Man | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Dot Time Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Quantum Man

Quantum Man

Dot Time Records
2017

buy
Short Stories

Short Stories

Origin Records
2014

buy
Way Of Being

Way Of Being

Arabesque Jazz
2013

buy
Grass Roots Movement

Grass Roots Movement

Arabesque Jazz
2011

buy
Modern Times

Modern Times

Arabesque Jazz
2009

buy
Unspoken Dialogue

Unspoken Dialogue

Playscape Recordings
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Out in the Open CD/LP/Track Review
Out in the Open
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Contemporary Chaos Practices CD/LP/Track Review
Contemporary Chaos Practices
by Don Phipps
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Changed Beings CD/LP/Track Review
Changed Beings
by Chris May
Published: November 16, 2018
Read We Must Mustn't We CD/LP/Track Review
We Must Mustn't We
by John Sharpe
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Two Infinitudes; The One You "see" and the One That Is You. CD/LP/Track Review
Two Infinitudes; The One You "see" and the One...
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Always Forward CD/LP/Track Review
Always Forward
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Sunlight" CD/LP/Track Review Sunlight
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 25, 2018
Read "Earthshine" CD/LP/Track Review Earthshine
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Vertical" CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//" CD/LP/Track Review NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 4, 2018
Read "Fred Hersch Trio: Live in Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Fred Hersch Trio: Live in Europe
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 26, 2018
Read "Black Swan" CD/LP/Track Review Black Swan
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 17, 2018